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Kwakiutl(kwä`kēo͞o'təl), group of closely related Native North Americans who inhabit N Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia, Canada. They, together with the Nootka, their southern neighbors, make up the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Kwakiutl culture was typical of the Northwest Coast area (including the custom of potlatchpotlatch
, ceremonial feast of the natives of the NW coast of North America, entailing the public distribution of property. The host and his relatives lavishly distributed gifts to invited guests, who were expected to accept any gifts offered with the understanding that at a
..... Click the link for more information. ). The ethnographer Franz BoasBoas, Franz
, 1858–1942, German-American anthropologist, b. Minden, Germany; Ph.D. Univ. of Kiel, 1881. He joined an expedition to Baffin Island in 1883 and initiated his fieldwork with observations of the Central Eskimos.
..... Click the link for more information. produced a significant number of ethnographic studies on the Kwakiutl. Numbering c.15,000 before European contact, they are now reduced to around 4,000 and are mainly engaged in fishing and farming.
See F. Boas, Kwakiutl Ethnography, ed. by H. F. Codere (1966); R. P. Rohner and E. C. Rohner, The Kwakiutl (1970).
an Indian tribe in the province of British Columbia in Canada. Population, approximately 4, 500 (1967, estimate).
The Kwakiutl are bilingual; they speak their own language, which belongs to the Wakashan language group, and English. At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th century, there were approximately 25, 000 Kwakiutl. They engaged primarily in fishing; private property relations were beginning to develop, and hereditary patriarchal slavery existed among them. The Kwakiutl created a distinctive culture and art. At the present time, the Kwakiutl live on reservations; most of them work in the fishing and timber industries. They are Protestants, although some of their ancient beliefs and cults have also been preserved.
REFERENCESNarody Ameriki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Linguistic and Cultural Affiliations of Canadian Indian Bands. Ottawa, 1967.